MX23RW : Sunday, August 1 20:15:19| >> :120:4162:4162:
Dec 26, 2019 at 3pm UK at Villa Park
Attendance: 41,289
Aston Villa
NorwichNorwich City
Hourihane (64')
FT(HT: 0-0)

Preview: Aston Villa vs. Norwich City - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole provides team news, predicted lineups and a full preview of the Premier League meeting between Aston Villa and Norwich City on Boxing Day.

Aston Villa and Norwich City square off in the Premier League on Boxing Day with both clubs sitting in the relegation zone.

Neither team have registered a win in their last five outings, leaving the hosts three points adrift of safety and the visitors double that number.

Match preview

Aston Villa boss Dean Smith on October 5, 2019© Reuters

Villa's decision to hand Dean Smith a new long-term contract was supposed to lead to a period of certainty at the West Midlands outfit as they bid to remain in the Premier League.

However, four top-flight defeats in a row, which extends to seven in nine since October 26, has led to the Villans dropping into the bottom three heading into an important period of the season.

Despite the length of Smith's deal, the boyhood supporter is aware that he is under increasing pressure to turn things around, with a win over Norwich going a long way to securing his future for at least another month.

While reaching the EFL Cup semi-finals has also brought Smith extra time, each of their four victories in that competition has come against weakened opposition.

Should Villa fail to arrest their slide against Norwich, and in the trips to Watford and Burnley which follow, the club's hierarchy may be forced to act having already invested significant funds earlier in the year.

Daniel Farke finds himself in a similar position at Carrow Road, although the German will at least have taken positives from the 2-1 defeat versus Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Despite taking a 1-0 lead into half time, the Canaries should have been further ahead, and it ultimately cost them as Wolves rallied after the break.

Norwich now sit six points adrift of 17th-placed Southampton, the same deficit which will be established if Villa prevail in the second city on Thursday.

To a certain extent, it is more of a must-not-lose game for the East Anglian outfit, who can ill afford to be cut adrift ahead of upcoming meetings with the likes of Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United.

Nevertheless, Farke may feel that it is worth taking a gamble, aware that success against their current nearest rivals could act as the catalyst for a much-improved second half of the season.

Aston Villa form: WLDDDD
Aston Villa form (all competitions): DLLLWL

Norwich City Premier League form: WDLLDL

Team News

Jonathan Kodjia has a leg-based celebration after scoring for Aston Villa on April 22, 2019© Reuters

Given Villa's recent poor form, Smith may feel ready to hand Jonathan Kodjia an opportunity in the Premier League.

The Ivorian, who has featured for just 75 minutes in the top flight, could be used on the flank or as a partner to Wesley.

With John McGinn having suffered a broken ankle, Jack Grealish may be moved into a central position.

As for Norwich, Farke is unlikely to make any unforced alterations to his team after their showing against Wolves.

Timm Klose, Ben Godfrey and Josip Drmic all remain out of contention.

Aston Villa possible starting lineup:
Heaton; Guilbert, Engels, Hause, Targett; Luiz, Hourihane; Kodjia, Grealish, Trezeguet; Wesley

Norwich City possible starting lineup:
Krul; Aarons, Zimmermann, Hanley, Byram; Tettey, Trybull; Buendia, McLean, Cantwell; Pukki

Sports Mole Logo

We say: Aston Villa 2-2 Norwich City

With both clubs strongest in attack, there surely must be goals in this match. However, with the stakes relatively high, they could come from mistakes, and we feel that these sides will cancel each other out in a back-and-forth encounter.

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Aston Villa manager Dean Smith watches his side beaten by Wolves on November 10, 2019
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Monday's key events

· There are no Brits in the women's 100m hurdles final, but Puerto Rico's Jasmine Camacho-Quinn, fresh from breaking the Olympic record in the semis, will hope to pip world record holder Kendra Harrison to gold (3.50am)
· The women's 5000m final also has no Team GB representation, but two-time world champion Hellen Obiri of Kenya will be looking to add an Olympic gold to her list of honours (1.40pm)

· The women's skiff 49er FX (6.33am) and men's skiff 49er (7.33am) come to their conclusion, with Team GB involved in both medal races

· A place in the women's gold medal match is up for grabs, starting with an all-North American semi-final between United States and Canada (9am)
· Australia, who edged past Team GB's in a seven-goal quarter-final thriller, take on Sweden in the second semi-final (12pm)

· The track cycling schedule gets underway, with Team GB holding a particular interest in the team pursuit qualifying. Laura Kenny is part of the women's team (7.54am), while the men's team includes Ed Clancy (9.02am)

· The Gadirova twins Jessica and Jennifer will both take part in the women's floor final as they look to add to their team bronze (9.57am)

· Newly-crowned European champion Emily Campbell flies the flag for Great Britain in the women's +87kg, but faces stiff competition for medals from China's Li Wenwen and New Zealand's Laurel Hubbard (11.50am)

· The women's hockey quarter-finals begin, with Team GB last up against Spain (1pm)

> Today's schedule in full
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Pre-Season Friendlies
Trophee des Champions
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Swiss Super League
Russian Premier League
Ukrainian Premier League
Swedish Allsvenskan
Danish Superliga
Belarusian Premier League
Major League Soccer
Copa Diego Maradona
Uruguayan Primera Division
Liga MX

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